The recent oil and gas boom and a resurgence in manufacturing have made jobs in the trades more attractive than ever. Employments is plentiful and salaries have never been higher. If you’ve heard that being a rigger is a good, paying job, you heard right. But what is a rigger, exactly?
What is a rigger?
The definition of a rigger in the traditional sense is someone who uses hoists and pulleys. In a modern sense, that also includes lifting, moving and transporting, positioning, pulling and securing of heavy equipment, machines and oversized loads.
The size and weight of the loads a rigger is responsible for moving can vary greatly, from large-scale machines in factories and on oil rigs to even x-ray machines in hospitals. If a load needs to be hoisted by arcane or overhead gear like a pulley or hydraulic jack, chances are a rigger is going to be doing the job.
Riggers can be found in varying industries, everything from manufacturing and oil and gas to the movies. Riggers are also employed by industries such as mining, ship building, construction, power and telecommunication, and hospitals, just to name a few.
But riggers do more than just move heavy objects. In addition to moving machinery a rigger oftentimes provides repair and installation in the fields of electrical, mechanical and plumbing.
The load moving, rigging industry can be broken down into 3 general categories: Load Movers, trucking Companies, and Crane Companies.
Load movers: Load movers are exactly what they seem. These are the guys that handle loads on the ground.
Load movers can be divided up into 3 categories: machinery movers and erectors, millwrights, and of course riggers. Other businesses in which their primary function is not as a load mover may be engaged in this practice as well, so you may often find machine shops and building contractors registered as load movers as well.
A rigger, while technically a load mover, oftentimes has many types of experience under his belt, including working in manufacturing, oil and gas, mining, construction, and steel, just to name a few. Riggers are the hands-on guys of the operation, but do not confuse a rigger with a simple hauler or mover. A rigger must have extensive knowledge of specific calculations, as well as precision placement of moving equipment.
The weight involved when moving loads can vary widely, anywhere from a half-ton boiler to a 5000 ton lighthouse. When moving and hauling such large loads (sometimes measuring hundreds of feet long), a rigger must then call in the services of a trucker, the next in the categories.
Truckers: When it comes to moving not just heavy but massive objects, it’s the truckers who are called in to get the job done. Odds are you’ve seen a house being hauled down a highway at one time or another. This is where the trucker is called in.
Truckers are the ones who get these over-sized loads from point A to point B, but there’s much more to it than just driving 5MPH. Starting with safely hoisting and securing the load on the truck, truckers must take into account the entire pathway from point A to point B. They also must consider and calculate all the logistics: highway closures, police escorts, bridge detours; because hauling something as large as the space shuttle is no Sunday drive.
Crane operators: Once the trucker has safely delivered the package to point B, this is where the crane operator comes in. In fact, the crane operator is involved in two steps of the project, the loading of the package and the unloading. Cranes can vary in size, anywhere from one ton to more than 1500.
Riggers do it all
So you see, when talking about a rigger you are actually talking about many aspects of the job. These three main components do have one thing in common, though. They must work in coordination with one another to get the job done. Next time you see a house being hauled down the highway, remember, it’s the rigger who is behind it all.